7 ways to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10

If you have used Windows 10 for a while, you might have noticed that the "old ways" of booting into Safe Mode no longer work. By that, we mean trying things like pressing the F8 or the Shift + F8 keys on your keyboard while booting. These methods stopped working because the start procedure became faster than ever before. However, that doesn't mean that Windows 10 has no Safe Mode. It's just that to get to it you have to follow other procedures. Let's take a closer look and see all the ways you can get into Safe Mode in Windows 10:

Safe Mode in Windows 10

When you enter Safe Mode in Windows 10, the operating system loads a minimal user interface, with only the essential services and drivers needed for it to function. Here’s how it looks:

1. Use the System Configuration tool (msconfig.exe)

One of the easiest methods to boot into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the System Configuration tool. Many users know this tool by its executable name: msconfig.exe.

The fastest way to launch System Configuration in Windows 10 is to use the Run window. To do that, simultaneously press on the Windows + R keys on your keyboard. Then, write msconfig in the Open text field, and press Enter or OK.

Another way of opening the System Configuration Tool is to use Cortana. In the search field from your taskbar, enter the words ”system configuration.” Then click or tap on the System Configuration shortcut.

In the System Configuration window, click or tap the Boot tab. In the Boot options section, select the “Safe boot” option. Finally, click or tap on OK.

Windows 10 tells you that you need to reboot your PC for the new setting to take effect. If you still have work to do, you can select to “Exit without restart. If not, you can restart now, and your device will automatically boot into Safe Mode.

After Windows 10 reboots, it goes straight into Safe Mode, where the first thing you’ll see is that Microsoft’s own Edge web browser doesn’t work. Fortunately, you can still use the old Internet Explorer.

2. Use the “Shift + Restart” combination

Another way of getting into Safe Mode in Windows 10 is to use the Shift + Restart combination. Open the Start menu and click or tap on the Power button.

Then, while keeping the Shift key pressed, click or tap on Restart.

Note that you can also use the Shift + Restart combination from the Sign In screen: click or tap Power, press and hold Shift and then click or tap Restart.

Then, Windows 10 reboots and asks you to select an option. Choose Troubleshoot.

Then, on the Troubleshoot screen, select Advanced options.

On the Advanced options screen, choose Startup Settings.

Windows 10 says that you can restart your device to change advanced boot options, including enabling Safe Mode. Press Restart.

After Windows 10 reboots, you can choose which boot options you want to be enabled. To get into Safe Mode, you have three different options.

To enable Safe Mode press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard, to enable “Safe Mode with Networking,” press 5 or F5, and to enable “Safe Mode with Command Prompt” press either 6 or F6.

3. Use the Settings app to access the Recovery options

To get into Safe Mode in Windows 10, you can also use the Recovery options available from the Settings app. Open Settings (Windows + I) and head to the Update & security section.

On the left side of the Settings window, press Recovery.

On the right side of the app, in the Advanced startup section, click or tap on the Restart now button.

After Windows 10 restarts, you’ll have to follow the same steps as those we’ve shown you in the second method from this guide. In short, you must go to “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart”. Then, press 4 or F4 on your keyboard to start in Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

4. Boot from a recovery drive

In Windows 10 you can use the Recovery Drive app to create a system recovery USB drive. Once you have created a USB recovery drive, use it to boot your Windows 10 device and, when you're asked to load its content, do so.

The first screen asks you to choose the layout for your keyboard. Select the one you want to use, or if you don't see it listed, press on “See more keyboard layouts” to get the complete list of available layouts.

Once you’ve chosen your keyboard layout, on the “Choose an option” screen, select Troubleshoot.

The next steps you need to take to boot into Safe Mode are the same ones we showed in the second method from this guide, which is to follow this path: “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.” Then, press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard boot into minimal Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

5. Use a Windows 10 installation drive and the Command Prompt

If you have a Windows 10 installation DVD or USB memory stick lying around, or if you can create one right now, you can use it to boot your broken PC with Windows 10 into Safe Mode. To create a Windows 10 installation drive, follow the steps from this tutorial: How to download Windows 10 Creators Update and create your own installation media. Then use it to boot your broken Windows 10 PC from it and wait for the installation environment to load. Choose the language and keyboard layout you prefer and click or tap on Next.

Next, click or tap on the link that says “Repair your computer” on the bottom left corner of the screen.

Click or tap on Troubleshoot.

On the “Advanced options” screen, click/tap on “Command Prompt (Use the Command Prompt for advanced troubleshooting).”

Now Command prompt will load. Inside it, write the command: bcdedit /set {default} safeboot minimal. Then press Enter on your keyboard.

After a moment, Command Prompt tells you that “The operation [was] completed successfully.”

Then close the Command Prompt and choose to Continue on the next screen.

After your PC reboots, Windows 10 will automatically boot into Safe Mode.

6. Interrupt the normal boot process of your Windows 10 PC

If Windows 10 fails to boot normally three times over, the fourth time it enters by default in an Automatic Repair mode. Using this mode, you can boot into Safe Mode. To trigger the Automatic Repair mode, you must interrupt the normal boot process three consecutive times: use the reset or the power button on your Windows 10 PC to stop it during boot, before it finishes loading Windows 10. If you use the power button, you might have to keep it pressed for at least 4 seconds to force the power off. When your Windows 10 PC enters the Automatic Repair mode, the first thing you see is a screen that tells you that the operating system is “Preparing Automatic Repair.”

Wait for Windows 10 to try to make an automatic diagnosis of your PC.

Then, on the “Automatic Repair” screen, press the “Advanced options” button.

On the next screen, choose Troubleshoot.

From here on, the steps you’ll have to make are the same as those we’ve shown in the second method from this guide. Follow the path “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.” Then, press the 4 or the F4 key on your keyboard boot into minimal Safe Mode, press 5 or F5 to boot into “Safe Mode with Networking,” or press 6 or F6 to go into “Safe Mode with Command Prompt.”

7. Use F8 or Shift + F8 (doesn't work when using UEFI BIOS & SSDs)

In Windows 7, you were able to press F8 just before Windows got loaded, to open the Advanced Boot Options window, where you could choose to start Windows 7 in Safe Mode.

Some websites advise you to press Shift+F8, just before Windows 10 starts loading so that you make it launch the recovery mode, from where you can boot into Safe Mode. The problem is that most times, Shift+F8 and F8 doesn't work, even though they are correct commands, supported by Windows 10.

This official blog post from Microsoft (Designing for PCs that boot faster than ever before) explains that this behavior is caused by their work in creating a very fast boot procedure. Both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have the fastest boot times ever. To quote Steve Sinofsky:

“Windows 8 has a problem – it really can boot up too quickly. So quickly, in fact, that there is no longer time for anything to interrupt boot. When you turn on a Windows 8 PC, there's no longer long enough to detect keystrokes like F2 or F8, much less time to read a message such as “Press F2 for Setup.” For the first time in decades, you will no longer be able to interrupt boot and tell your PC to do anything different than what it was already expecting to do.”

If you have modern PC with a UEFI BIOS and a fast SSD drive, there's no way you can interrupt the boot procedure with your keypresses. On older PCs, with a classic BIOS and no SSD drive, pressing these keys might still work though.

Conclusion

Windows 10 is a fast operating system with a fast boot process. Getting into Safe Mode might not work the way it did in older Windows operating systems, but the methods available are similar to the ones in Windows 8.1. If you happen to know of other ways to do this, don't hesitate to let us know and we promise we’ll update this guide.